| 20.09.2021

Professor Mats Ehrnrooth: “Never stop thinking again!”

Karen Spens tillsammans med professorerna Ehrnrooth, Storbacka, Ittonen och Grant
On 17 September 2021 Hanken School of Economics arranged an inaugural installation ceremony for three new professors, Mats Ehrnrooth (Management and Organisation), Kaj Storbacka (Hanken Foundation Professor) and Kim Ittonen (Accounting).

In his inaugural lecture, Professor Mats Ehrnrooth pointed out that science has never been so widely challenged, questioned and debated as during these times of pandemic. He also noted that especially in management research, good data is hard to acquire. Based on evidence from many fields of science that few studies replicate, he argued that it would be important to improve upon a number of weaknesses also in how research on management is done.

To underline his point, Ehrnrooth referred to the author Adam Grant who urges us to “think again”, noting that this applies equally to researchers and practitioners, and our current understanding of the relative importance of leadership and HRM.  

“Science is still the best thing the humankind has invented. The strength of practitioners is experience, the strength of scientists is data and methods”, commented Ehrnrooth. He argued that these two parties increasingly need to collaborate to produce more robust management knowledge, and that people analytics provides interesting opportunities for such collaboration.

Need for market innovation instead of product innovation

Professor Kaj Storbacka has for many years now focused on researching market shaping strategies. According to him, we need to expand our view of what innovation is and can be.

“Half of all innovations fail, and we say that the market was not ready. What you need to do is enlarge your innovation scope to include both business model and market besides the new product”, says Storbacka.

Market was earlier thought to be predictable, but the last two years have shown that markets are, in fact, increasingly unpredictable. How do you then shape a market?

“Timing is important. It makes sense to shape the market when there is already turbulence. Secondly, you need some entrepreneurial experimentation will. Markets are complicated and therefore it’s almost impossible to make plans in advance and stick to them”, states Storbacka. “Moreover, you need to ensure a win-win-win situation. You can’t shape a market if the stakeholders don’t feel like they will profit from it”, he adds.

Auditing reduces information risk

The new professor in auditing, Kim Ittonen, indicated that auditing is an economically motivated service to reduce information risk and has an important role in the communication between companies and their interest groups.

“The value of auditing stems from the auditor identifying misstatements and requiring those in charge of the company and the preparation of financial statements to adjust these misstatements before the financial statements are publicly filed”, says Ittonen.

Companies issue much more information than only historical financial information. They disclose reports about ESG, risks such as cyber risks and forecasts, but until now only the historical financial statements are audited.

“The EU Commission has recently issued a proposal that would introduce an EU-wide audit requirement for reported sustainability information. This would add accuracy and reliability to the reported sustainability information in the EU”, Ittonen concluded.


Watch the recording of the ceremony here!